Arsenal recovered from two goals down on Wednesday to beat Bolton 4-2 and go top of the Premier League.
Tomas Rosicky and Cesc Fabregas pulled Arsenal level after Bolton had surged into a surprise 2-0 lead. Defender Thomas Vermaelen made it 3-2 with a fierce shot and with five minutes left, Andrei Arshavin scored the goal that put Arsenal into first place on goal difference.
It was the first time Arsenal has recovered from 2-0 down to win a Premier League game in almost two years — the last was against the same opponents — and confirmed the impression that Arsenal are genuine contenders for a first Premier League title since 2004.
“We believe we have a real chance,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. “It is important to keep a good balance between humility, keeping our keep on the ground, and ambition and desire.”
Arsenal joined Chelsea — who have a game in hand — on 48 points, one more than defending champions Manchester United. Tottenham stayed in fourth place despite a 2-0 loss at Liverpool.
Also on Wednesday, Aston Villa reached the League Cup final after rallying from 2-0 down to beat Blackburn Rovers 6-4. Villa won the first match of the two-legged semi-final 1-0 and advanced to the Feb. 28 final on a 7-4 aggregate victory.
Moment of controversy
Arsenal are unbeaten in the league since November but was helped on Wednesday by a contentious goal, with Bolton’s players and the coaching team angry about the circumstances that led to the 52nd minute equalizer.
Bolton midfielder Mark Davies was lying injured by what looked to be a dangerous challenge from defender William Gallas, who stretched to regain possession after giving away the ball but instead stamped Davies’ ankle.
“It was nearer to a red card than anything else,” Bolton manager Owen Coyle said. “Arsenal is full of fair players, or so we keep hearing, but they carried on.”
Rather than kick the ball out to allow Davies to be treated, Arsenal played on and the ball fell to Fabregas at the edge of the area. The Spain midfielder darted between two players, pushed it past the lunging challenge of a third, and finished with a shot through the goalkeeper’s legs from a narrow angle.
“It was a bad tackle,” Coyle said. “I could accept if William Gallas had got a bit of the ball. But he’s touched absolutely none of that ball. But I’m not making that an excuse. Even with 10 men, we could have defended that better.”
Davies was carried from the field on a stretcher after several minutes of treatment for suspected ligament damage.
“I’m sorry if the tackle was not good,” Wenger said. “I apologize. The players went on and they didn’t know what’s going on behind.”
Wenger made just two changes from team that won 2-0 at Bolton on Saturday, strengthening his side with the introduction of Gael Glichy and Denilson.